CHICAGO — FBI agents and local police who had a pair of suspected serial armed robbers under surveillance caught them red-handed, arresting them last week as they tried to drive away from a holdup — one with cash sticking out of his pocket, authorities said.
The surveillance team blocked their getaway car from pulling away from a Metro PCS store they just robbed in the Heart of the Chicago at 22nd and Western, according FBI documents.
The alleged robbers, one who wore a surgical mask, were charged in a series of cellphone store and gas station robberies in Chicago and the suburbs dating back to January.
Emanuel Gavin of Ashburn targeted several Metro PCS stores, using an Airsoft pellet gun to threaten employees, according to court documents.
Gavin was helped by Henry Fabela, also of Ashburn, who lived nearby and would drive Gavin to robberies, the FBI said. The two allegedly stole money and cellphones from the stores and took personal items from people inside the stores.
The two inadvertently tipped off authorities after a cousin of Gavin's was found with a stolen iPhone with photos of Gavin, according to the FBI.
Agents who put the pair under surveillance caught them immediately after a robbery in Chicago, the FBI said.
The FBI thinks the first Chicago-area robbery happened in January. At 4:34 p.m. Jan. 24, Gavin walked into a Metro PCS store, 3641 W. 83rd Place, while wearing a surgical mask and pointed a gun at a store employee, the FBI said.
"You don't want to die today," Gavin told the employee, according to the FBI. "Head to the back of the store."
Gavin made the man empty his pockets and take $80 from the register and give it to Gavin, the FBI said.
After that robbery, on Feb. 28, Chicago Police took a boy into custody for having an iPhone that was stolen from a Metro PCS store on Feb. 3. The officers found photos of a man and boy on the phone, according to court documents, and a guardian of the boy was shown a photo and the guardian said the man was Gavin, the boy's cousin.
At 6:36 p.m. April 21, Gavin walked into a Metro PCS store, 5938 W. Roosevelt Road, while wearing a surgical mask, and walked up a store employee and asked for a phone charger, according to court documents. Gavin left the store and came back, then walked up to the register, unzipped his sweatshirt and showed the employee a handgun.
"Give me all the money," Gavin told the employee, the FBI said.
The employee opened the register and gave Gavin about $500 and Gavin left, the FBI said.
Days later, at 4:30 p.m. April 25, Gavin, again in a surgical mask, walked into a gas station in suburban Elmhurst, threatened to shoot an employee and stole money from the store, the FBI said. He left in a Jeep driven by a second person.
The Jeep from the Elmhurst robbery was similar to a car that was at the scene of two April 8 robberies in Skokie, an April 11 robbery at a Metro PCS store in Chicago, an April 12 robbery at a Cricket store in Berwyn and an April 17 robbery at a Metro PCS store in Homewood, the FBI said.
Agents found the Jeep's license plate was registered to Francisco Fabela, who lived with Henry Fabela, the FBI said. They also found Gavin had registered a car to an address three blocks away from the Fabela home.
Then, on April 28, officers watched Gavin and Henry Fabela drive around, circling a Metro PCS store at 2059 W. 47th St. before driving to another Metro PCS store at 2225 S. Western Ave., the FBI said.
There, Gavin got out of the car while wearing a surgical mask, walked into the Metro PCS store and said he wanted to buy a cellphone charger, according to the FBI. While paying for the charger, Gavin held a store employee up at gunpoint, the FBI said.
"Give me the money or I'll shoot you," Gavin told the employee, according to the FBI. Gavin then walked around the counter, took $635 from the register and left the store after telling the employee not to call police yet, according to the FBI.
Officers saw Gavin, with money coming from his pocket, leave the Metro PCS and get into the car with Fabela, according to the FBI. Officers blocked the car from leaving and arrested Gavin and Fabela. They brought Gavin to the Metro PCS store they said he had just robbed and the employee there said Gavin was the thief.
Officers searching Gavin said they found he had a black, 6mm Airsoft gun, $725.75 in cash, gloves, a surgical mask and a Metro PCS cellphone charger.
While speaking to an FBI agent that day, Gavin said he'd robbed the Metro PCS store and also said he'd robbed a gas station in Elmhurst a few days before that, according to the agency. He was shown a photo from the gas station robbery and said the photo was of him.
Gavin also told agents Fabela had committed other robberies with him, including one in Skokie, according to the FBI.
Fabela denied being involved in the robbery in Elmhurst and said he was an Uber driver, according to the FBI.
The two have been charged with obstructing, delaying and affecting commerce and movement of articles and commodities in commerce by robbery, according to court documents.